AN EUROPEAN COASTAL TOWN
Signed l.r. Francis Edward. James.
25 x 35cm
The Highgate Gallery, London
James was born in London, and was entirely self-taught, working primarily in watercolour and specialising in still lives of flowers. He suffered from ill health throughout his life and yet was an active exhibitor, showing at the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours, Fine Art Society, Dudley Gallery, Society of British Artists, Grosvenor Gallery, New Gallery, New English Art Club, Dowdeswell Galleries, Beaux Arts Gallery, Baillie Gallery, and with Agnew and Sons, Arthur Tooth and Sons and the Goupil Gallery in London. He also exhibited with the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours, Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and Manchester City Art Gallery.
James entered into membership of the then-recently established New English Art Club in 1888, the year that Whistler exhibited with the group - an important early artistic alliance. In 1908 he was elected an associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours, becoming a full member in 1916.
In 1884 he was elected a member of the Society of British Artists, a society which appointed James' great friend James Abbot McNeil Whistler as its President in 1886. In 1888, when Whistler was presented with a letter asking for his resignation, it was Francis James who proposed a vote of censure on those who had signed the letter, but this was not passed. James was a particularly close friend of Whistler's and a frequent visitor to the artist's studios at 21 Cheyne Walk and then at 13 Tite Street: In 1884 he was included in a list of artists to be invited to JW's private view for 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884. Their friendship was such that he was also notably invited to less public affairs, including dinner parties and special previews of the infamous artist's new works. Among his other admirers and friends James counted Isabella Stewart Gardner, to whom he gave a Venetian view which remains in the Stewart Gardner Museum today.
.Today James' works can be found in the aforementioned Gardner Museum (Boston), the British Museum (London), the National Museum of Western Art (Tokyo) and the Victoria & Albert Museum (London) among others.